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consumer alert

Litigious Abogados: Another New Name to Add to the Family

amador-galeca-300x191

Yesterday a new name to the ever growing Litigious Abogados family was named, Amador Galeca Abogados, the website was born on 18 July 2017, so is only two months old. Yet according to their website they have over 15 years presence on the net, and they claim to have been a law firm for over 25 years.

amador-malodan-galeca-243x300
Amador Malodan Galeca

http://amadorgaleca.com/

The owner registration details are privacy protected but the site is registered by GoDaddy.

https://www.whois.com/whois/amadorgaleca.com

The website is exactly the same as all the others that have come before, the only difference is in the photographs and names of the lawyers. This new website now shows some new faces with names that are either variations of previous ones or newly made up.

simono-maenga-arlovas
Simono Maenga Arlovas
manuel-pralge-namblib-300x300
Manuel Pralge Namblib
balthathar-hirmod-nisbelam-300x300
Balthathar Hirmod Nisbelam

The address they give on the website is very familiar as it has been used before, Calle de V. Sanz, N14, 16, 38002 Santa Cruz de Tenerife, (it is actually Calle de Valentin Sanz). Number 14 does have a plaque on the wall by the door for an Abogado, but it is not this one here. (We just wonder if this lawyer knows his address is being used).

They use a freephone number: 0800 802 1223 and the email address: galeca_ukclaims@consultant.com

We will hazard a guess here, but we suspect that the story is going to be along the lines of all the other members of this fake family, your timeshare company or resort is about to be taken to court, for a fee you can also be included in this case. We wonder if the Procurador, who will need to be paid, is one of those we have seen before, or whether a new name will be used, no doubt that will be answered within the next few weeks, as other readers contact us with new information.

If the past antics are anything to go by, within weeks of paying the money, the “client” will receive a fake copy of the court sentence, along with a photocopy of a Banesto cheque with the awarded amount printed with their name on it. (Remember Banesto has not existed since 2012).

Compensation_Cheque-page-001

There will also be an accompanying letter stating in English that the director of the company pleaded guilty to all charges, (anyone fancy a wager that it will be Keith Baker or Keith Balker). You will then be asked to pay 21% of the awarded amount as tax to have the cheque released, which will arrive by post. Only problem is that it will never arrive, the envelope will be open, a letter from the court will be there but no cheque.

Now we go to stage three of this very clever operation, you will receive from another company a letter stating they have been appointed by the court, they are to investigate a Romanian gang who stole and cashed a cheque with your name on it. They will also pursue the bank to recover the money for you, you only have to pay them 10% of the cheque value. As we say this is a very clever ongoing sting. So far we don’t yet know what happens next, we have not come across anyone who has made it to stage four. But we do suspect that in order to get the money that has been recovered, another “TAX” will need to be paid.

These claims always sound fantastic, the amounts of money they promise you and in such a short space of time are designed to play on your emotions, then slowly drain away all your money before you realise what has happened.

Our only advice is if you are contacted by any company that tells you a case is about to go to court against your timeshare company or resort, then with a fee you can be included,

STOP, THINK AND DO YOUR HOMEWORK.

homework

If you are unsure how to check any company that makes these promises, or just need confirmation, contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

Join us tomorrow for another Friday’s Letter from America with Irene Parker, along with some news from Europe that is just breaking.

Follow the links for the whole Litigious Abogados story.

http://insidetimeshare.com/a-narrow-escape/

http://insidetimeshare.com/go-abel-garcia-law-firm-always-wins/

http://insidetimeshare.com/litigipus-abogados-family-gets-bigger/

http://insidetimeshare.com/litigious-abogados-showing-charity/

http://insidetimeshare.com/abogados-abel-garcia-new-member-litigious-abogados-family/

http://insidetimeshare.com/litigious-abogados-plot-gets-thicker/

http://insidetimeshare.com/news-litigious-abogados/

http://insidetimeshare.com/litigious-abogados-new-update/

http://insidetimeshare.com/litigious-abogados-plot-thickens/

http://insidetimeshare.com/litigious-abogados-latest-information/

http://insidetimeshare.com/litigious-abogados-update/

http://insidetimeshare.com/1059-2/

 

midweek

The Mid Week Slot: Another New Name along with an Article by Michael Kosor

During our usual morning search of various websites and forums, we came across this from Mindtimeshare, it is our old friends Litigious Abogados with a new name to add to their ever increasing family.

amador-galeca-300x191

Amador Galeca is the new name to look out for, the address is one that has been used before with one of their other incarnations:

Calle de V. Sanz, N14, 16, 38002, Santa Cruz De Tenerife

With the freephone number: 0800 802 1223

Email: galeca_ukclaims@consultant.com

Website: http://amadorgaleca.com/

They also have some new names, which are variations of those that have been used before, and what looks like a few new faces in the photographs of the “lawyers”.

amador-malodan-galeca-243x300
Amador Malodan Galeca

Once again it is going to be the same old story, we are taking your timeshare company to court, it is scheduled for trial within the next few weeks, pay ex-amount and be part of it. Then suddenly you are told you won, as the director, (we’ll bet it is Keith Baker or Keith Balker again) has pleaded guilty.

We will be publishing a fuller post on this when we have done a little more research.

On the subject of legal action against timeshare companies, those lawyers at Canarian Legal Alliance have once again got another result from the Supreme Court. That now makes 58!!

This one from reports is against Silverpoint, with the court declaring the contract null and void with the return of over £63,000 plus legal interest and legal fees. They also had another win against Silverpoint at the Court of First Instance in Tenerife. Again the contract was declared null and void and the return of over £59,000.

So now on with the article which was supposed to have been published in last Friday’s Letter from America.

Timeshare and Asset-Backed Security Products

cash

By Michael Kosor

September 20, 2017

There has been an increase in defaults for some timeshare companies concerning timeshare loans packaged in their Asset-Backed Securities (ABS) products. The average consumer will recall the devastation its sister security, the Mortgage-Backed Securities (MBS), created that triggered financial collapse. Consumers and regulators should pay attention to the timeshare product today so similar to the products of 2007 that led to financial devastation.

I believe this is clearly and directly related to the increase in litigation by these particular developers, targeting consumer advocates and the legal community. While there definitely are attorneys practicing questionable business practices, “Kill all the lawyers” is not the answer. Every citizen has a right to legal representation if they feel they have purchased a product sold by deceit.

Developers are rightly hypersensitive to any bad press that points to increases in loan defaults as they are sure to negatively impact ABS rating/pricing. The ABS product and the associated market are by nature complicated, not part of our public market system, so limited to sophisticated players. As such, it is not a part of mainstream news. To that end, watch a very short video published by Allison Bisbey, Editorial Director, Capital Markets Newsletter.  

https://asreport.americanbanker.com/video/diamond-resorts-abs-under-pressure-from-companys-sales-tactics

Some developers are experiencing an elevated level of defaults. In the case of Diamond Resorts, it has reached a point the rating agency for DRI, KBRA (Kroll Bond Rating Agency) recently saw fit to issue a note on the issue, albeit not surprisingly, a reaffirmation of KBRA’s original rating.

https://www.krollbondratings.com/announcements/3705

A timeshare ABS is a security whose income payments, and hence value, is derived from and collateralized or “backed” by a pool of underlying assets. Contrary to popular opinion, “hard” assets do not serve as the primary collateral – only the contractual obligation to pay. However, hard assets do provide secondary security and impact overall price/return.  

Today, the vast majority of timeshare loans are not backed by any real property interest. Timeshare ABSs sold today are little more than securitized consumer loans. Yet when I talked to the Moody analysts just a couple weeks ago about their most recent Wyndham ABS rating, they stated they use criteria established in 2003 – when a timeshare loan was typically still attached to a real estate interest.

In rating an ABS, comparisons with historical loan default rates are critical. Timeshare ABSs, notably a different underlying product than the one packaged today, report very limited/zero defaults.  This is not because the consumer default rate is or was low – to the contrary. Rather, DRI (not unlike Wyndham) uses ABS structure options allowing them to repurchase or substitute all of its defaulted loans. As a result, the ABS reports defaults as 0% while actual consumer defaults are much higher. (Note a 6% – 8% default rate for “aged” loans is informally used, if any pre-option rate is reported or available at all). Aged loans have a proven repayment history of 6 months or more. The “aged” number does not include what is certainly a much higher total consumer default percentage of timeshare loans when early defaults are included.  

The repurchase and substitution option in an ABS is typically capped at around 15% of the total. More importantly, the rating agency should not (but appear to nonetheless) give credit to the option to repurchase or substitute defaulted loans. Gross loss expectations are increasing also. It is reported in the investor literature as 11 – 12% in prior years to 13-14% today; dangerously close to underwriting limits.  

Wyndham and DRI would like its debt investors to believe the increase in defaults is due to an uncharacteristically high number of borrowers being solicited by lawyers and “scammers” offering to get consumers out of their timeshare. Thus, we see the rise in Cease and Desist letters and litigation targeting consumer “friendly” legal providers.

What is more, ABS investors, thus the developers selling timeshare ABSs, are hypersensitive to cash flow. Admittedly a bit desensitized since 2007, they will nonetheless respond when issues or news challenge a specific ABS or a class of ABS, such as timeshares.

Timeshare regulators (assuming any exist and/or pay attention) also need to be reminded that in 2007 investors experienced losses because they made decisions on bogus ratings, guarantees from mono-line insurers, and a blind faith in historically real-estate prices.  Simplistically, people ignored the quality of the contractual cash flow, relying instead on history (home price appreciation in the case of the MBS). This sounds analogous to timeshares today.  

With the rise in Social Media, timeshare members are more and more expressing increased owner unrest, disturbed by a rise in consumer complaints, as evidenced by Mark Brnovich’s issuance of Diamond’s Assurance of Discontinuance AOD fueled by over 900 consumer complaints. Is anyone paying attention?

I spoke to a Wyndham executive last month at my VOAs annual meeting. He saw this issue as a problem caused by lawyers seeking timeshare members and a major problem. With an aging population of original buyers who no longer want or need their timeshare, many don’t know where to turn when there is no secondary market and the contract is perpetual.

On a similar line, most all ABS, to include timeshares, are supported by significant “credit enhancements” to protect the investors from higher than anticipated (historical) default rates. Overcollateralization (issuing less debt than total assets held) is a particularly valued credit enhancement technique used. However, overcollateralization becomes tricky, even suspect, when the assets held by the seller have no explicit face amount/market established price as with the non-viable timeshares resale market. My impression is most agency raters, while sophisticated financial types, are not educated on the underlying change of the timeshare product pool being securitized, as most are reliant on the developers for their information and understanding.

Finally, as I noted earlier, reported default rates are zero. As a result, most rating agencies, I argue to retain clients, and many investors, dependent on industry reporting, do not dig any deeper. Both sides see no news as good news – once again analogous to the 2007 mortgage back securities fiasco. This needs to change.

risk1

Thank you Michael, not being of a financial mind, the article has been a bit of an education, I just didn’t know these things went on.

There we have it, look out for the article on Amador Galeca, more important beware of any calls or emails promising that you have money waiting for you. The truth is you haven’t, all they want is your money, so stay safe, keep your money in the bank and do your homework before parting with it.
homework kid

consumer alert

More Calls Regarding Fake Claims

Further to our articles of 11 and 15 September, regarding Bias Claims Services and  along with calls from HMRC holding money from the Spanish courts in respect of compensation for past frauds, there has been another new twist.  This time it is Barratt Consulting Services SL and a call from the Bank of Spain.

In this call to one of our readers, a lady called Caroline Reid claims to be an Adjudicator from the Bank of Spain, with a strong Scottish accent she explains that our reader is due over £25,000 from previous sales of holiday club memberships. This actually amused our reader as he only ever paid around £3000 in the first place.

bank of spain
Bank of Spain Madrid

He was given several options on how to retrieve the money, they all involved a Spanish lawyer and translator, he could however go to Spain himself or allow their legal contacts to do the work on his behalf. This would obviously incur costs, there would be a charge for the notary and also for the bank. Costs would average around £8000 for the lawyer and translator then around £2,500 for the bank.

This would need to be paid with an initial £2,500 with the balance to be paid 10 days later. Once this is done he would receive his money within 1 month. Now that is very speedy! Caroline also stated that their legal contacts worked in the same building (very convenient), but she would have to find out when they were available as they were very busy at the moment. I’ll bet they are!

Once our reader agreed to this, she would ask her legal people to give him a call, when asking about how payments were to be made her response was, there would be a few more calls before they reached that stage. Very vague indeed.

When our reader declined and would not be taking up the offer, apparently her manner changed abruptly, becoming more insistent, that he was missing a great opportunity. She also gave him various examples of other people, one of which had received over £70,000.

When our reader still declined the offer, Caroline told him had would have to sign a disclaimer and return it to the bank. She told him she would ask the bank to send it to his home address, it arrived that day via email. The disclaimer was not from the Bank of Spain, but from Barratt Consulting Services SL.

The address on the letter for Barrat is: Bulevar Louis Pasteur, 5, 29010 Málaga, which when checking google maps is a large apartment / office block in Malaga, just out of interest right around the corner from the main CourtHouse.

They also give the following telephone number and email address:

0034 951 203 041

info4barrat@consultant.com

So far we have not traced any company registered with that name in Spain, we have not even found a website for them.

inconsistent

There are several inconsistencies in the story that Caroline gives, firstly that she is an Adjudicator from the Bank of Spain, well we have never heard of the Bank of Spain calling timeshare or holiday club clients in the UK, also we cannot believe that the Bank of Spain would be employing a lady from Scotland in such an important position.

The speed of which the payments need to be made and the very speedy way in which the bank would payout, within 1 month!

Also would not the Bank of Spain be talking in Euros and not Pounds Sterling!

money

Inside Timeshare is in contact with several lawyers dealing with timeshare claims and none of these have ever heard of anything like this before. They have also reiterated that the Bank of Spain do not make calls or would be dealing with any matter such as this.

 

If you have not yourself instigated legal proceedings against any company you have dealt with, then the call to tell you that HMRC, Bank of Spain or any court is holding money for you, is not true. None of these bodies would contact you in such a manner, so once again if it sounds too good to be true then it is not true, so do not be blinded by the huge sums they say is waiting for you.

This once again shows how important it is for you to do your due diligence and check any claim that any company makes which contacts you. If you need any help or advice on how to do this contact Inside Timeshare and we will help you through it.

homework

letter from america

Friday’s Letter from America

This week’s Friday’s Letter from America is not the one we originally planned from Michael Kosor, this will be published in due course.

First a little news from Europe, only last week we told of the calls from HMRC informing people that they have money from the Spanish courts, one reader has sent us this information.

They were called by a Kipp Stuart from HMRC Accounting, this was with reference to a ruling at the Malaga courts, Kipp informed them that they were holding over £22,000 on their behalf, unfortunately as there was no paperwork then the funds could not be released. They were given reference numbers along with the following telephone numbers:

08713 581033 to confirm with HMRC

0034 602489947 for the Malaga Court

Wonderful, only problem, the 08713 number is not used by HMRC and also carries rather hefty charges.

The 0034 number is a Spanish mobile number and no court will issue mobile numbers for confirmation.

As we published before

HMRC DO NOT CALL PEOPLE WITH NEWS THEY ARE HOLDING MONEY ISSUED BY THE SPANISH COURTS!

On the subject of courts, it has been a rather busy, that lot at CLA have announced six more wins. There have been five in Tenerife, four of these against Silverpoint, with one of the largest awards we have seen for sometime. In this case the client was awarded over 67,000€ including legal interest and second instance legal fees with the contract being declared null & void.

The other case involved European Coast & sun Holidays SL, the judge of the Court of First Instance declared the client’s contract null & void, along with the return of over 15,000€, then as a double whammy he also ordered back payment of over 16,000€  double the deposit paid.

Then in Fuengirola at the High Court the judges reaffirmed a sentence from the Court of First Instance against Petchey Leisure, by awarding over 14,000€ plus interest and legal fees.

Back to Gran Canaria and the Court of First Instance in Maspalomas once again declared an Anfi contract null & void with the return of 21,000€ plus legal interest.

These are just some of the cases announced this week, it is certainly an expensive one for those companies.

Now on with this week’s letter.

The Deep, Dark, Dank, Obscured From View, But Very Lucrative Timeshare Developer Revenue Stream: Are Its Days Numbered?

money tree

By Mike Finn, Finn Law Group

Originally published by Inside the Gate

https://www.finnlawgroup.com/learning-center/timeshare-developer-revenue-stream-days-numbered

Clarifications in blue added by Irene Parker for non-legal minds (like mine)

September 14, 2017

We as consumers, with a certain level of understanding of business, probably attribute the lion’s share of timeshare resort revenue to two central factors: timeshare sales and timeshare rentals. As it turns out, there is a third major revenue stream that’s related to sales, but is an entirely separate source of revenue, and it’s a significant one. Depending on the nature of the initial purchase, whether it was a deeded interest, or more commonly over the past fifteen years or so, a “right to use” amalgamation of points, this shrouded revenue source may indeed also be in violation of certain state consumer rights statutes, including the Uniform Commercial Code.

I’m speaking to the universally accepted resort practice of the resort retaining every dollar received from a defaulting purchaser, even if the entire purchase price or an amount close to the total was paid over to the resort prior to the owner’s default. This would include a cessation of paying the purchase price, maintenance fees or capital assessments.

It’s not considered relevant, at least if one believes the purchase contract, to factor in the sometimes quite significant amount paid in up to the moment of default, in terms of any form of accounting back to the sum of money paid by the defaulting purchaser. It’s all retained by the resort pursuant to the purchase contract, as “liquidated damages”.

In other words, an unwitting purchaser could have paid in say $18,000 of his/her $20,000 purchase price (not to mention the additional payments of interest and annual maintenance fees), defaulted for any number of reasons and still be pursued by the resort as a debtor for the unpaid balance! Well, isn’t that appropriate, you may retort! After all, the purchaser has defaulted on a perfectly legal (on its face) promissory note obligation of $20,000 when only $18,000 has been paid? Well maybe, but let’s examine what happens next.

Foreclosure of real property and disposition of personal property are governed by different bodies of law. Real property foreclosure sale varies dramatically among the states. Personal property disposition is governed by each state’s versions of Article Nine commercially reasonable disposition.

I found this explanation of the difference in real property foreclosure compared to personal property distribution in Texas helpful:

Texas Real Property Foreclosure

Section 51.002, et seq. of the Texas Property Code defines the minimum statutory procedure that must be satisfied to properly foreclose upon real property. In addition to the minimum statutory requirements, the deed of trust executed by the debtor-mortgagor details the agreed contractual terms and conditions for foreclosure of real property.

Personal Property Disposition in Texas

Article Nine of the Texas Business and Commerce Code defines the minimum statutory procedures that must be satisfied to foreclose upon personal property. In addition to the Article Nine requirements, the security agreement executed by the debtor-mortgagor defines the contractual terms and conditions for foreclosure of personal property. Generally, personal property disposition must be commercially reasonable.

Commercially reasonable is the key concept here. We can all relate to selling a car. According to NOLO, there is no hard and fast rule on what “commercially reasonable” means. What is commercially reasonable depends on a number of factors.

The procedure, not the price, ultimately determines whether the sale is commercially reasonable. Whether a sale is commercially reasonable depends on four factors, the:

  • manner
  • time
  • place
  • terms of the sale.

Perhaps Mike’s concern as it pertains to timeshare foreclosure being commercially reasonable, as it applies to car sales, also applies to timeshare.

“There are times, however, when a private or “dealer only” sale may not be commercially reasonable”, such as in the following instances provided by NOLO. Two of the six points they mention seem to apply to timeshare:

  • the creditor has the ability to sell the car on the retail market
  • the creditor buys back the vehicle then resells it a significantly higher price.

What If I Believe the Sale Was Not Commercially Reasonable?

If you can demonstrate that the creditor did not sell your car in a commercially reasonable manner, you can raise that as a defense against any lawsuit brought by a creditor looking to collect on the deficiency balance. In some instances, if you can prove the sale was not commercially reasonable, the court may reduce or even eliminate your obligation on the deficiency balance.

http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/car-repo-sale-was-commercially-reasonable.html

Back to Texas

Comparison of Texas Foreclosure Procedures for Real property and Personal Property

Real property and personal property foreclosures are dramatically different. Real property foreclosures are conducted on the first Tuesday of each month between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. at the courthouse door in the county in which the real property is located, with a notice posted at the courthouse door, personal notice to the debtor, and filing of the notice with the county clerk, all 21 days before the foreclosure sale. These requirements are defined by § 52.001 of the Property Code and are unique to Texas law. Personal property foreclosures are conducted under § 9.504 of the Texas Business and Commerce Code, which generally requires a commercially reasonable sale. The requirements of Article Nine of the Texas Business and Commerce Code are followed, with some minor variations, by all states except Louisiana.

Thus, real property foreclosures in Texas are very defined and structured procedures unique to Texas law which do not require the sale to be commercially reasonable. On the other hand, personal property foreclosure sales are not structured by statute, but they must be commercially reasonable as to every aspect of the disposition, including method, manner, time, place, and terms. The apparent conclusion is that although the legislature has specifically defined the procedures that must be followed to dispose of real property, personal property may be disposed of in any manner the secured party elects, as long as the sale is in all respects commercially reasonable.

The differences between real and personal property foreclosure procedures and requirements have had interesting effects upon lenders and borrowers. The notice provisions for real property foreclosures mandate procedures known to both the lender and the borrower. The procedures provide certainty as to the mechanics of the sale. Both lender and borrower are offered an opportunity to dispose of property, with each fully understanding when, where, and how the sale or purchase will occur.

In contrast, the nebulous standard of a commercially reasonable sale leaves both the lender and the borrower uncertain as to the ultimate and satisfactory sale or purchase procedure for personal property. Article Nine attempts to place the burden on the secured lender seeking a deficiency to sell in a commercially reasonable manner, whatever that may be in the particular circumstances found by the lender. Likewise, the debtor has no knowledge of how the lender will proceed with foreclosure and has the burden of proof, if attacking the sale, to show that the sale was not commercially reasonable. The more certain real property foreclosure procedures seem to work more effectively for both the lender and the borrower.

http://www.lenders360blog.com/2008/10/real-estate-foreclosure-vs-ucc-personal-property-commercially-reasonable-disposition/

Commercially reasonable according to Cornell Law School: A disposition of collateral is made in a commercially reasonable manner if the disposition is made:

(1) In the usual manner on any recognized market;

(2) At the price current in any recognized market at the time of the disposition; or

Wait a minute here!

face

“At the price current in any recognized market at the time of disposition” means my Diamond Resorts points should be sold for nothing. Not one of the 64 members of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association will even accept a DRI listing and even Howard Nusbaum, CEO of the timeshare lobby ARDA, has been quoted as saying modern timeshare is a right to use product so the member should not expect any value back. I think Mike really is onto something!  

Other timeshare companies may argue that they do have a secondary market, but even those fortunate to be able to sell their timeshare, frequently sell them for pennies on the dollar of their original investment.

(3) Otherwise in conformity with reasonable commercial practices among dealers in the type of property that was the subject of the disposition.

https://www.law.cornell.edu/ucc/9/9-627

Now on the edge of my seat, we continue with Mike’s narration:

In our original example, is the developer out the missing $2,000?  Ask what happened to the object of the $20,000 purchase? Well look at that, the actual property never, even for a moment, left the possession of the developer! My goodness, the developer just re-sold the interest to another brand-new buyer for a fresh new $20,000! So now are you still comfortable with the original purchaser being pursued for the missing $2,000? Perhaps sued, almost definitely having derogatory credit reporting, not to mention harassment from bill collectors? So what exactly happened to the first purchaser’s $18,000 paid to the resort? Is any of it accounted for with maybe a portion returned to the guy who ended up with nothing except perhaps a lawsuit?

Not a chance in Hades! The so-called ‘extra revenue stream’ is now actually an extension of the existing stream to the developer from sales, and sales, and maybe still more sales. How many times can the same unit interest (or bloc of points) be resold over the life of the project?

The distinction (and thus a portion of the reason for my overly dramatic title) is that typically sales revenue in say a condominium project is recorded once, and the revenue is, of course, offset by the cost of acquisition of land, construction costs, marketing costs, etc. and the net amount remaining after those costs is the developer’s profit. However, in the case of the timeshare developer, the original buyer covered those costs in their initial transaction, therefore the new additional piggy-back to back transactions didn’t come with any more land acquisition or construction costs, and therefore essentially came only with very little new or fresh costs of sale beyond the re-marketing costs.

light bulb

Well wait, you might say, this can’t be right! You sure this practice is universal? Yes? Well then, are you sure this unconscionable practice is even legal? Good question, and one wherein the answer to that question may be evolving and it’s not necessarily the laws in place that are changing, it’s the timeshare product changeover, the newer form of the property that is being marketed by the developer that is creating a change in which already existing laws are now perhaps becoming relevant to the timeshare purchase, and by doing so may be enforced by the previously out of luck defaulting purchaser. In fact, it may well be that the same old existing law pendulum may be swinging back in favor of the consumer!

I reference the fact that over the past decade plus a few years, there has been a change in the product that the timeshare industry is selling. Just after the turn of the century, the industry has backed off of selling of the deeded weekly timeshare product, which was indisputably a real estate product, in favor of a product they tout as being more user flexible: a product called a “right to use” product. Setting aside the differences in the actual ability to use the two very different types of timeshare “ownership,” the focus of this article is on the migration of the timeshare product from a real estate based product, morphing into what we attorneys refer to as “personalty”.

In our lawyer’s world, everything not legally defined as real estate is personalty (the only other option in the law). Presumably a ‘right to use’ timeshare product (points based) is not considered by the law as real estate, (if it no longer possesses any attributes of real estate and therefore as ‘personalty’, is subject to differing state laws particularly including the universally adopted, in some form in every state, Uniform Commercial Code).

Additionally, state laws regulating the real estate within its boundaries, do vary from state to state. Personalty, however, is a commodity of a different color. The Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), as its title suggests, is nearly uniform in its textual content, and from an applicability standpoint, every state in the Union has adopted, with minimum exceptions not applicable to this article, a version of the UCC almost identical with its neighboring states. In other words, as we discuss the law of personality (again, all that is not deemed real estate) we can speak to it across the board. These laws apply everywhere within the USA.

As a Florida lawyer, you may have seen other articles where I either cite specific Florida statutes or have issued a cautionary statement that the principles I was espousing may not apply in other jurisdictions. Contrast this article where I do not constrain my statements. Also, rather than cite state specific portions of the UCC, I, in places, simply refer to Articles within the UCC and in others the ‘pure code provision’.

Further, this article is not intended for an audience of lawyers or jurists. It’s intended for consumers to get a grasp of a relatively new set of laws, including the Uniform Commercial Code, that now may begin to play a much greater role in the laws governing timeshare projects and correspondingly, the developers who operate these projects.

I would like to ask Mike at this point about another universally accepted practice – advising borrowers to go home after purchasing their dream vacation plan and arrange financing with their bank or credit union. Perhaps it’s the subject of another article, but the majority of complaints received by Inside Timeshare say their sales agent advised them to seek a home equity loan to lower timeshares usury type timeshare lending rates. Many have done just that. My husband and I were told we could get lower rate financing, “No one should finance at our rates,” warned Donna. (Grand Beach, FL July 2015) I guess buyers that follow that advice are just out of luck, like Sylvia Saldana, now stuck with a $30,000 home equity loan after Diamond Resorts “took back” $60,000 worth of timeshare points. To make matters worse, Sylvia said she was aggressively encouraged to open Barclaycards, told buying more points would lower their maintenance fees. Had she succumbed to that suggestion, Sylvia and her husband would have lost even more money.

http://insidetimeshare.com/irene-parker-write-barclay-card-usa/

Back to Mike

Consumer rights may also get a major boost by the applicability of the UCC as well, since, to the extent that a contract provision contradicts an applicable statute, that contractual provision will be rendered null and void.

So, for example take the typical contractual provision that, “all monies paid will be retained by the developer as ‘liquidated damages.’’’ Essentially, the amount of damages fixed must be reasonable ‘in light of actual or anticipated harm’ and a term fixing an ‘unreasonably large amount’ is void as a penalty.

Therefore taking a contract, say with a 10% down payment and then adding subsequent monthly payments, the sum total could easily become ‘unreasonably large’, particularly in light of the quick turnaround on the “use rights” for which there has been a default, assuming which I think is fair with on-site sales team (ARDA’s Mr. Nusbaum calls them forever sales centers), that the interest will be promptly re-sold.

Another example of a UCC provision that may well change the way defaulted buyers are treated is as follows. The included reference to the specific UCC provision is the actual textbook unadulterated Code provision number, and may well differ from numbered state specific statutes. The developer or secured party is under a duty to notify debtors of the disposition of collateral under UCC Section 9-611. Further, the disposition must be done in a commercially reasonable manner.

Of particular importance, the secured party/lender is required to apply proceeds of any disposition to the underlying debt once expenses have been taken.

Is this where we end up with money back to the debtor? Can we go back to our original example?

I paid $20,000 and default at $18,000. For sake of discussion I am current on maintenance fees (which is probably not the case). The developer sells to the next hamster my forfeited points for $20,000. I am relieved of the $2,000 still owed, but if the developer sells for $23,000, I will be relieved of the $2,000 owed plus get $3,000 from the surplus amount? This next sentence sounds like the answer?

Also of notable significance is the duty of the secured party to pay the debtor any surplus which results from the disposition of collateral.

Additionally, the secured party/developer is liable for any damages caused by its failure to comply with Article 9.

In summary, a new day in the life of an unhappy timeshare owner is dawning. Existing laws never before applied to timeshare purchases may well now apply and particularly those timeshare interests that are non-real estate based like the ‘right to use’ interests that are now the mainstream of the timeshare community! Stay tuned for future developments on our website as we begin to apply the theories and applicable state statutes referenced hereinabove.

Respectfully submitted,

Michael D. Finn, Esq.

www.finnlawgroup.com

michaeldfinn@finnlawgroup.com

work desk

Whew! That was exhausting. It’s a good thing we have legal eagles to figure these things out because Charles Thomas and I get pretty depressed at times listening to “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” stories. We have heard enough to fund a series. The question I am most frequently asked is, “How can they sleep at night?”

Thank you to Mike Finn for the chance to publish this and also to Irene to add her clarifications for those without legal minds.

It now only remains to say be careful who you do business with, check and check again, if you need help, then contact Inside Timeshare. Have a good weekend.

weekend02

monday start

Start the Week

Hope you all had a good weekend, we also hope that all our friends in Florida are safe with the hurricane Irma wreaking havoc. Irene and Don evacuated from Venice to Orlando to escape the storm, we hope to hear from her today, although she has kept busy with new articles for this week.

claimmoney

Back in July we reported on a series of police raids in the Velez MalagaTorre del Mar area, these centered on several companies: Halfmoon Holdings, Excalibur Sales & Marketing, Blue Chip and Rosedale Marketing, these were highlighted in the British press.

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/3952419/dozens-arrested-over-timeshare-scam-that-saw-500-brits-conned-out-of-life-savings-in-multi-million-pound-costa-del-sol-racket/?utm_source=TWITTER&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=SprnklrSUNOrganic&UTMX=Editorial%3ATheSun%3ATwImageandlink%3AStatement%3ANews

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/costa-del-sol-cops-uncover-10745713

At the time we did warn about new companies that were likely to surface with stories of being appointed to contact people about money being held by the courts to pay them back. Well as usual it is happening.

Reports have surfaced about one such company, Bias Claims Services, apparently based in Mijas, Malaga. The telephone number given does seem to point to this area +34 951 203 873.

gobierno

According to the caller the case is being heard on 17 November in Madrid, which does seem strange as the raids and arrests were in Malaga. Another wonderful piece of news for the hapless victims is that the Spanish Government is covering all the costs for their legal representation. Bias Claims Services will arrange all this for you, but this will be for a cost.

As Bias Claims Services do know you had dealings with those companies involved in the raids and arrests, it would be safe to say that your details have come from those companies records. More than likely ex-employees and office managers.

It is important that if any company contacts you with a similar story, do not believe it, do your checks first, the authorities would contact you via official channels, not employ a company to do so.

In tomorrow’s article Irene Parker explains how to file a complaint, all the main points you need to get right. It also goes to explain how advocacy works and who you should file the complaint with. In this week’s Friday’s Letter from America, we welcome back Michael Kosor to our pages, in this article: Timeshare and Asset Back Security Products. This is an article that will interest many, including us in Europe as it is not something we are familiar with. So join us on Friday.

If you have been contacted by any company with an offer or claim that looks too good to be true, remember to do your homework. If you are not sure how to check them out or if they are telling the truth, contact Inside Timeshare, we will point you in the right direction. Taking time to check will ultimately save you money.

homework

airplane

The Tuesday Slot

Today Irene Parker calls on our readers in the US to join Inside Timeshare for a get together in Orlando, but first a little of the news in Europe.

It would seem that the TCA and TESS are sniping at each other again, this time it is the TCA having a little dig at TESS. For a change it is actually pretty well written, it also does put quite a bit of doubt about the claims that TESS make.

They publish a letter that TESS is sending to their clients, in this they mention the Spanish Supreme Court rulings. But as usual it seems TESS can’t get their facts right, they say that the “newly issued Supreme Court ruling, which came out of Spain in late 2016 early 2017”, which as we know is not correct, the first ruling was issued in March 2015.

The TCA also question the number of cases TESS have running, including the claim that every case “presented to trial has won”. We must concur with the TCA on this one, we have seen no evidence of TESS having won any cases at trial regarding timeshare, especially in Spain. We can say with all honesty that there are only two firms who have actually had any success that we know of.

It must also be remembered that Mr David Cox of TESS did own the TCA, with his company TESS even taking on Mark Rowe’s clients. We also know their has been a massive falling out between the two, with both sides publishing scathing attacks on each other. For those sitting on the sidelines it has been quite enjoyable.

During our usual searches on the internet, we also came across the following website “the David Cox Story”.

http://www.tess-timeshare.com/

The author has remained anonymous, his research is very extensive and he certainly doesn’t pull any punches. It does also shed a new light on the relationship between TCA and TESS, it also makes you wonder who the author is?

anfi ariel view

We have also been looking at the ANFI DEL MAR Public Group Facebook page, in a post and discussion started on 29 August, all does not seem well amongst the members. The post related the dire state of the accommodation, how it is falling way behind what it was when these members joined.

The complaints are also about the furniture with one member stating that the bed settee “was not fit for purpose”. This same post also complained about the bed covers curtains and furniture still the same as when the upgraded in 2007, that it is shabby and past its sell by date.

Other comments also included having to call out maintenance on several occasions for various things including a broken down jacuzzi, including falls due to slipping on leaking water. Another commentator told of water damaged kitchen cupboards, including a balcony door falling out.

So what is happening to this once wonderful resort?

We leave you to decide the answer to that little conundrum.

Now on with Irene’s little piece.

Meet Inside Timeshare in Orlando for a Meeting/Party

Heres news

Meet Charles Thomas and Lisa Ann Schreier October 11, 2017 in Orlando  

September 5, 2017

By Irene Parker

There has never been a time when the need for Advocacy in the timeshare industry has been so apparent. The evolution from fixed deeded timeshare to sometimes confusing and convoluted points programs, consumers buy in a same day sale, often after an hour’s long sales session, leaves many buyers bewildered and sometimes shocked when the product purchased doesn’t meet the product promised.

Charles Thomas will travel from Canary Islands, Spain, to join us in America as Lisa Ann Schreier and I show Charles what Orlando has to offer, and hopefully gather as many timeshare members as we can to attend an informational meeting/party October 11th.  Grassroots as always, bring your own food and beverages. Charles will be in Orlando for the week, so if you are available from October 7 to October 12, let us know. This will give us an idea on how to plan.

Charles describes himself as a former timeshare sales agent who wasn’t very good at it, refusing to give into high pressure or deception. Charles is British of Maltese descent. After a beer or two you might get Charles to talk about his family tree that dates back to William the Conqueror 1068.

 Lisa Ann Schreier is “The Timeshare Crusader.” She has been teaching and helping timeshare members since 2004.

The Timeshare Crusader is dedicated to helping consumers navigate through the myriad of confusing timeshare information as well as working with forward thinking organizations to be a catalyst for positive change. Lisa Ann is the creative force behind International Timeshare Appreciation Day, held annually on November 1, so perfect timing for a preliminary kick-off.

Lisa is author of two bestselling books, “Surviving a Timeshare Presentation…Confessions from the Sales Table” and “Timeshare Vacations for Dummies.” She also co-authored the college-level textbook, “An Introduction to Vacation Ownership Management.”

Lisa Ann’s Blog can be accessed at

http://thetimesharecrusader.blogspot.com

A little bit about Lisa Ann Schreier

Lisa Ann served as the Director of Member Services for the National Timeshare Owners Association from 2013 to January 2017. Prior to NTOA she served as Director of Communications for Celebration World Resort and most importantly, understands the industry from the inside out having worked in timeshare sales and sales management for several Orlando resorts.

Lisa Ann’s passion for the timeshare industry and the rights of the consumer fits like a hand to glove with the mission of Inside Timeshare:

Our mission is to provide you news surrounding the timeshare industry, providing you with the information and tools to make informed decisions about the companies you may wish to deal with.

Then there is me. I call myself The Peasant of Venice antithesis to The Queen of timeshare Versailles because I live in Venice and have devoted full time volunteer hours to help timeshare members, alleging they were deceived by bait and switch, prepare their request for refund, relinquishment or loan cancellation. I rely on Lisa Ann and her expertise along with several other timeshare insider advocates working behind the scenes as the member and I work toward timeshare freedom, if that is their goal.

Hat’s off also to Irene Allen and the admins of advocacy Facebook groups working towards timeshare reform. Social Media has indeed enhanced the ability for members to contact other members to share experiences and concerns.

We seek to provide Diamond Resort members a way to proactively address membership concerns; to advocate for timeshare reform; to obtain greater disclosure from the company; to advocate for a viable secondary market; and to educate prospective buyers.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/DiamondResortsOwnersAdvocacy/

https://www.facebook.com/timeshareadvocategroup/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/180578055325962/

Join us in Orlando if you can. I have met with several of our Facebook members at resorts throughout the country. There’s nothing like meeting someone you already consider a friend face to face. Remember to contact Charles at Inside Timeshare, Lisa Ann or me if you are able to hook up with us.

party time

Thank you Irene, I am certainly looking forward to meeting you all and visiting Orlando, see you all soon.

 

monday

Start the Week: The Monday Briefing

Yes its Monday and the start of another week, over the weekend Inside Timeshare has received many more enquiries regarding companies owners have been contacted by. They range from so-called legal companies offering cancellation of contracts and the promise of possible compensation to “Lifestyle Credits”, offering massive discounts if you join their club.

On the point of cancellation of contracts and compensation, this is one area that you should be very careful of. One reader was offered this for a cost of £8000, upfront payment. The cancellation or relinquishment would be done within a year, and then a claim would be made for compensation. Only one problem here, the claim is to be done through section 75 of the credit consumer act, against his card company.

We have said this before, this will not work, the card company will argue that you have used the timeshare, therefore you have received the goods and services paid for. Mis-selling is not covered, the fact your contract may be in perpetuity is not a basis for a claim under section 75. Also why would you pay this huge amount to get out, when you may be able to do this yourself for a fraction of the cost direct with your timeshare company or resort.

credit cards

Lifestyle Credits, this is where you join a club for a huge amount of money with the promise of huge discounts on holidays and other goods. You will receive a number of “credits” which you use to pay for the goods, these may include discounts at major stores and outlets. For example, a holiday will be advertised by the company for £2,500, using ex amount of credits, the holiday will cost £1,800. Looks good on paper, but don’t forget, you have probably paid over £10,000 to join. Also do a search online, you may even find the same holiday and at a fraction of the cost.

These clubs are not regulated, they do not come under timeshare laws, so you have very little in the way of consumer rights. So remember, it may sound like a good deal, but it very rarely is.

consumer rights

Following on from Friday’s Letter from Australia, the following video has been found on youtube, it is a rather comical look at timeshare, with a very good spoof presentation. Yes you’ve guessed it, it comes from Australia. Have a look, it is one of the best timeshare videos we have seen in a long time.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICpOrsQcKT8

After publishing on Friday the following announcement was made by Canarian Legal Alliance, two of their clients have been paid out by Anfi. one for over 34,000€ the other for close to 43,000€. Again this goes against what Anfi claim, that they are not losing and people are not getting paid out. What do you believe?

CLA also announce that they have 54 new cases at the courts in Gran Canaria along with 4 new cases at the courts in Malaga. These represent a total claim value of 2,436,000€, the courts are certainly going to be busy.

Now September is upon us, we should be seeing more announcements from the courts, but also the “bogus” companies will be out in full swing. To protect yourself, do your due diligence and your homework before engaging with any company, especially in the field of claims. The promise of huge amounts in “compensation” are designed to draw you in, check and check again. If in doubt contact Inside Timeshare, we will point you in the right direction and show you how.

too good1

end month

End of August Roundup

Considering August is usually a quiet month with all the holidays, Inside Timeshare has had quite a run on articles. We began August with news on the Tauro Beach Project entitled “Tauro Beach: In the UK News”.

This followed the publication of a story in The Guardian, a UK newspaper, on the importation of the sand used to build the beach, from Western Sahara. The article by Anders Lundqvist and Rowan Bauer, two independent journalists who investigated the possible illegal importation of the sand.

They explained that if this sand did originate from the Western Sahara, which it most certainly looks like, it was against UN Resolutions and rulings from the European Court of Justice. In their article they quote the head of SEPRONA in Gran Canaria, Lt Germán Garciá who stated “The sand was brought illegally, it was discharged with no control at all,” we know this has caused concern among environmentalist on the Island, as there is a protected area just 300 meters off the beach.

gc-seprona

For the full story follow the links at the end of this article.

The following day we published the Mid Week Report, this started with the news that TATOC had truly gone as their website is no longer accessible. It was then followed with a link to The Canary News, an English language newspaper based in Gran Canaria. The Canary News article by Ed Timon, the editor, gave a very good insight into the history of Western Sahara, which was the subject of the previous article.. (Again see links below).

We also published the first article of the month from Irene Parker, from our US branch, this was to do with a lawsuit in the US by Welk Resorts against Timeshare Exit Team. This is the first in a series of articles highlighting lawsuits by timeshare developers against resale / exit companies and law firms.

Loyalty: No Such Thing in Timeshare was the title of the next article. This highlighted Timeshare Compensation’s blog on Silverpoint now known as Signallia. In this blog Timeshare Compensation warns its readers of the “dodgy” past of this company, which was very surprising indeed as the owner of Timeshare Compensation, Mark Rowe, is an ex-senior sales manager of Silverpoint and thereby employee of Robert “Bob” Trotta, as well as colleague of the CEO Mark Cushway. Told you there were some strange things in the world of timeshare!

loyalty1

In our first Friday’s Letter from America for the month, we published the article by Eron Grant, this covered the question of why does ARDA have a code of ethics? One question we have also asked of the RDO.

Once again that family of fake law firms in Tenerife came up, yes you know the ones, Litigious Abogados.

Another new contributor from the US made her debut, Bonita Hill. Her article was on the question of Diamond’s Clarity Programme, regarding the Oral Representation Clause. This was launched in response to an Assurance of Discontinuance issued by Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich. Diamond has stated they intend to go beyond the requirements of the AOD.

We then published “Truth, What is Truth?” This was in response to readers enquiries about Anfi denying losing any court cases. This has caused confusion among members, after all these cases have been publicised in the press, yet Anfi tell everyone it is not true! So who do you believe?

In the next Friday’s Letter from America, we published Part 4 “Our DRI Misadventures” by David Franks. He Joined our team of writers from the US, some months ago and has given us a great deal of fun. He certainly has a style of his own and is a welcome member to the team.

We then started our “Hug Your Haters! A Customer Service Message” by Irene Parker, this is based on the book Hug Your Haters by Jay Baer. He is to be a keynote speaker at the Interval International Shared Ownership Conference to be held at the Miami Beach Eden Roc Hotel October 23 – 25. Mr. Baer has advised more than 700 companies including The United Nations and 32 Fortune 500 companies.

Next came the news of a story we published last year, it involved The Manhattan Club in New York. The NY AG Eric T Schneiderman had suspended all sales at the club back in July 2014, this followed many complaints of deceitful practises. The case is now finally over, with a settlement of $6.5 million, also the owners are being forced to sell and have been barred from participating in the timeshare industry. Well done Eric, one for the consumer!

Attorny_General_Eric_T_Schneiderman
NY AG Eric T Schneiderman

Once again Karen Garello from our Timeshare Advocacy, contributed another “Secret Shopper Report”. In this article, Karen gives sound advice on the questions you should ask when going on a sales presentation. Following her advice could save a lot of problems in the future.

It was back to Europe for our next piece, this was titled “ Timeshare In the Press”. This was actually very timely as it followed on from the Truth What is Truth article, it was based on the article in the Spanish paper El Diario. It highlighted the Supreme Court rulings, mainly against the Tenerife company Silverpoint, who just like Anfi deny any cases going to court or being lost.

It also included the article published in The Canary News, based on the one from the paper La Provincia, this began with a recap of the groundbreaking first Supreme Court ruling back in March 2015. Again throwing out the claims of the timeshare industry that these are all fictitious cases.

There followed a couple more articles by Irene Parker and a Timeshare Advocate. The first highlighted the  lawsuits between developers and law firms, the second was an open letter to the timeshare industry. Whether they take any notice is another thing.

In The Monday Briefing, we again focused on the Litigious Abogados family, giving a recap on how they operate their rather sophisticated scam, but also some sound advice which if followed will protect you from becoming one of their victims.

In the same article we welcomed and wished all the best to a new forum for timeshare owners, Timeshare Users Forum. This has been set up by disgruntled members of Timeshare Talk, a previously independent forum. We won’t go into detail here, but you can read the full article.

The last article for August was Part II of Hug Your Haters: A Customer Service Message.

So that is it for August, tomorrow we don’t cross the great lake to the US, we go to the land down under, for another Letter from Australia, contributed by Justin Morgan, on the role of private equity and the secondary market in timeshare. Do join us and bring your didgeridoo!

didgeridoo

Links to some of this month’s articles.

http://insidetimeshare.com/tauro-beach-uk-news/

http://insidetimeshare.com/tauro-beach-latest-development/

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/28/trouble-in-paradise-the-canary-island-beach-accused-of-illegally-importing-sand?CMP=share_btn_fb

http://insidetimeshare.com/loyalty-no-thing-timeshare/

http://insidetimeshare.com/truth-what-is-truth/

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-15/

http://insidetimeshare.com/manhattan-club-6-5-million-settlement/

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-16/

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-in-the-press/

http://insidetimeshare.com/legal-news-us-castle-law-group-pc-v-timeshare-developers/

 

letter from america

Friday’s Letter from America

It’s Friday! Time for another Letter from America, this week one of our advocates writes an open letter to an industry advocate, Irene Parker provides the introduction, but first some news from Europe.

Those nefarious fake lawyers from Tenerife are at it again with another new twist to secure your money. This time it is from Armando Gareca Abogados, one of the new names in the Litigious Abogados family, thank goodness this reader decided to search the web before paying any money and found our articles.

armando-gareca-abogados-logo-1

This particular reader was contacted by Armando Gareca and informed that a case had been lodged with the court against their timeshare resort, not bad considering the courts are closed in August. They were informed they could become part of this case and once they paid the Procurator fees of 1,012€ the case would proceed. It all sounded very good, they were told how much they would be getting back and when they would receive it. Obviously this law firm has a crystal ball and can tell the future!

As we said the courts are closed in August, but also they have expanded their jurisdiction, the Spanish courts and these so-called Spanish lawyers now have the power to take a Greek resort to court in Spain. Not only that Spanish law is applying to a purchase made in Greece!

So just to recap, if you purchased your timeshare in Spain or any of its territories, then Spanish law will apply, if you purchased in the UK, Malta, Portugal, Greece or anywhere else in the world, then Spanish law will not apply. Also it takes at least 12 to 18 months to get a case to court, there are some lengthy procedures to go through before it gets to trial, so the promises of this particular group that the case is being heard within weeks are false.

We have also had some enquiries regarding finance for timeshare purchases arranged by the sales staff, many of these are with Barclays Partner Finance or Hitachi. Some of our readers who have been contacted by various claims companies are told that once they sign up for legal action, they will have the loan stopped and the interest repaid.

This is a false claim, the timeshare resort acted as a broker for the finance, your agreement and contract is a personal one with the finance company and nothing to do with who sold you the timeshare. If you are taking legal action against your timeshare company, the loan is a separate issue, which can only be dealt with after a successful outcome against your resort. By stopping any payments to the finance company you are then leaving yourself open to legal action by debt collectors and subsequently receiving a CCJ, or County Court Judgement. This will have a devastating effect on your ability to get any credit, even being able to get a mortgage.

So beware of many claims, these people will play on your emotions, make promises that are not there, it pays to to check and double check. Do your homework!

homework

Now we move on to this week’s Letter from America.

An Advocate’s Open Letter to an Industry Advocate

greed1

By an Advocate

Introduction by Irene Parker

August 25, 2017

The following is a letter submitted to Inside Timeshare written to a timeshare industry proponent by one of our Timeshare Advocates. The letter is in response to an article the author wrote posing the question as to whether the timeshare industry needs to look in a new direction.

The letter writer asked that he not be identified and that the title of the article not be mentioned as this was a personal letter written to the author. One thing sorely lacking is dialogue between critics and proponents of the right to use timeshare product which can be financially devastating for a family when the resort denies their release and when no secondary market exists.

Following the article I have offered comments agreeing and disagreeing with both the author of the article and the letter writer. We encourage others to weigh in.

Thank you to our Advocate reaching out to the industry. We hope he receives an answer.

QA

In your article you state, “Timeshare is definitely not a real estate investment and apart from the occasional overzealous sales associate, timeshare companies long ago stopped pitching it as such an investment.”  While I agree with your assessment that it is not an investment, I must ask, are you saying timeshares are not real estate or are not an investment?  I also read other timeshare articles you wrote. You are knowledgeable, but I believe you missed some of the key issues a potential buyer of the product needs to understand. You are not the only financial timeshare writer glossing over two important issues:

  • Timeshares have no viable secondary market,
  • The timeshare product has evolved to no interest in real property.

Consider the potential impact on the industry, or better stated, why the issues have not yet impacted the industry.

You rightly state in your article, timeshares are overpriced and there is no appreciated value in the real estate. I wish you had made it clear, that once purchased, a timeshare has no value. You must be aware of the fact that there is no viable secondary market. With little data available (the industry controls it), I find the “sale” of most timeshares on the secondary market require the seller to bring money to the transaction. That equates to a negative value.  

Recently, in an effort to avoid increasingly ugly publicity, many of the largest players are offering a “give back” or “surrender” option to older owners, not actively using or able to use their timeshare, provided the associated home facility is viable and the product is fully paid. These guys are such good sales people they have actually been successful in improving their image, offering certain members in select properties the opportunity to give back their timeshare to the developer with nothing in return other than to escape their burden. The timeshare interest they bought for $20K to often well over $100K is given up for nothing so the developer can resell as new.  

The non-viable secondary market environment is no accident. It certainly is not caused, as ARDA would have you believe, by an oversupply of inventory, or the result of advocacy groups and “sell your timeshare” type organizations that illegally prey on owners. ARDA has long acknowledged the lack of a viable secondary market and has for years committed to fix it. While out of the public eyes, ARDA does nothing, even works not so secretly against efforts to raise a secondary market.

I am sure you have read industry 10Ks. In most every 10K I have read for the past 15 years, the existence of a secondary resale market would have a significant negative impact on developer earnings. It’s no surprise the industry is active in suppressing the market to eliminate their perceived risk. I just wish our consumer protection guys, wherever they may be, would mandate the same level of discourse for the individual timeshare buyer.      

I also wish you had not implied a timeshare interest is necessarily tied to a real property interest (and again the industry should be required to disclose this to potential buyers). The classic deeded timeshare is today by far the minority of sales. Timeshare consumers buy either an interest in a “user rights” trust, not the underlying real estate, or simply buy into a timeshare “club” arguably not a timeshare at all. Many in the industry call them vacation clubs.

Please understand my criticism of your piece is meant to be constructive and more importantly, intended to spur some additional interest on your part by examining the member’s perspective. Few consumers really understand the product and/or business model. The consumer protections guys are asleep at the wheel or have no mandate/political incentive to get involved, and the industry will not speak up for fear of risking a very profitable business model born on the backs of timeshare buyers fallen victim to the oral representation clause, locked into a perpetual contract. It’s tough for the consumer or the industry to get the real picture.

Have you had a chance in the past several minutes, as you struggle through my letter, to consider my question about the implications of the issues presented?

  • No secondary market,
  • Inadequate regulation,
  • ABS markets,
  • Cash flow should the issue of a non-equity product make the light of day,  
  • Inadequate disclosure as to the lack of a secondary market.

I am right?  No?

Well, I will end now and hope you do consider the implications of what I touched on. If I have sparked any additional interest on your part I’d like to talk more. Please call or write.

Respectfully,

An Advocate

gps cartoon

I would like to add a few comments to some of the issues raised or not raised by the letter writer and the article’s author.

First, I disagree with the article’s author in his statement that only a few overzealous timeshare sales agents sell a timeshare product as an investment, as the US side of Inside Timeshare continues to receive complaints almost daily from our readers reaching out to us for assistance after they allege being sold by deceit, concealment, violation of trust and bait and switch, meeting the definition of White Collar Crime, Financial Institution Fraud. Timeshare sold as an investment, told it would be easy to resell, is still one of the top five complaints.

We always want to acknowledge sales agents and developers trying to exist in a timeshare world so ingrained in deception on the front end of the sale. The 7,000 plus timeshare members belonging to five Bluegreen and Diamond Resorts Facebooks are filled with posts concerning allegations of deceit.

Second, surrender programs are no help to the majority of timeshare members that have reached out to Inside Timeshare because these members allege they were duped into signing up for high interest rate loans and credit cards. High 25% interest rate credit cards now can pop out on site like toast out of a toaster. Multiple credit cards are often opened.

As to a secondary market, we have heralded Disney Vacation Club as a company that allows an acceptable secondary market.

http://insidetimeshare.com/mid-week-report/

This is where the letter writer and I disagree. Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Judi Kozlowski of RE/MAX would argue Hilton also has a solid secondary market in that they don’t punish the secondary point buyer to the extent other developers do. Judi has been working the Hilton Grand Vacation timeshare resale market since the beginning of their current resale program.

“In my opinion, Hilton has the best resale market out there – the developer does not punish the resale deeded points buyer. Buyers of points on the secondary market are rewarded with the ability to join the Elite Club. They are still allowed to use the open season rates, trade internally and use RCI through Hilton.”

Third, I disagree with the letter writer in that he states ARDA has stated they want to fix the secondary market problem. I think that is old news from a 2014 RedWeek article. In recent statements, ARDA CEO Howard Nusbaum has stated timeshare is a right to use produce so members should not expect any value back. My rebuttal is that if timeshare is now defined as a country club of sorts, why is the contract perpetual? What country club is out there you can’t quit? What country club, except for the likes of Mar-a-Lago, requires an initial payment of often $50,000 or more?  What about the consumer that has turned over $50K to sometimes over $100K only to learn two weeks later they allege they were lied to as showcased in several of our Nightmare on Timeshare Street articles.

The letter writer mentioned Advocacy groups. I would like to make a distinction between real advocates and scam artists that call themselves advocates, including some law groups. We have 93 timeshare members helping other members I consider real Advocates. We also have 55 Advocates, including several attorneys and professionals, who donate their time pro bono to offer an assessment or opinion after the resort has denied the member relief.

Thank you to our letter writer and to all our Contributors. Your voice is important because one or two voices alone do not a concert make. Contact us or one of the Bluegreen or Diamond Facebook pages if you need assistance, would like to share your timeshare experience, or express your opinion.

pin up

Timeshare Advocacy Group™

https://www.facebook.com/timeshareadvocategroup/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/DiamondResortsOwnersAdvocacy/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/180578055325962/

There we have it, the end of another week and the start to what we hope will be a great weekend. Inside Timeshare thanks all those who contact us with information and enquiries, it is with your help we can bring those issues to a wider audience. Keep them coming.

Have a great weekend and join us again next week.

weekend01

law

Legal News From the US: Castle Law Group PC v Timeshare Developers

Today Irene Parker gives us an insight into one lawsuit that has made the headlines in the US, it would seem that across the great lake it is the timeshare companies that are on the legal offensive. In Europe the timeshare companies are very much on the defensive as we have seen in some of our previous articles.

Yesterday we published an article about the legal battle being waged against Silverpoint, they have stated that they will be filing a case with the High Court of Justice of the European Union, arguing that Spain has got the EU Timeshare Directives wrong.

eu court justice

Just to clarify one point on the EU Timeshare Directives, that is what they are “directives”, they are not law. A directive issued by the EU is a guide to all EU States to enact into their own domestic laws certain aspects which affect citizens. It is up to each individual state to interpret those directives as they see fit. The whole point is that each State may strengthen the directives, which is what Spain has done with their own timeshare laws, firstly with Ley 42/98 and more recently with Ley 4/12.

Directives are there to try and unify each State’s laws, especially on the matter regarding consumers rights, which the timeshare directive was intended to do. Before the timeshare directives came out, timeshare in Europe was what can only be described as lawless, timeshare companies could walk all over the consumer, there was no protection, timeshare was a new concept which nobody actually understood.

It followed an old economic system known as Laissez-faire, which has its roots in the 17th and 18th centuries, it was to be free of any government intervention, such as regulation. More recently a new term was conceived by conservative politicians and economists ‘free-market capitalism’. Timeshare has always followed this model, profit, profit and more profit at the expense of the consumer. (Again it sounds like Star Treks Ferengi).

Until laws are strengthened to the benefit of the consumer, we are going to see many more of these legal battles, be it consumer against developer or developer against law firms, the stage is set, let battle commence!

Now on with today’s article by Irene

Castle Law and Judson Phillips is Sued in Federal Court for Fraud

Orange Lake v. Castle Law Group PC

Westgate v. Castle Law Group

Diamond Resorts v. Castle Law Group

Who Next v. Castle Law Group

Speak truth

By Irene Parker

August 22, 2017

Who is Judson Phillips?

Tea Party Nation is a conservative American group considered part of the Tea Party movement.   The group was created by former Shelby County, Tennessee assistant district attorney Judson Phillips in 2009

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea_Party_Nation

Judson Phillips Ridiculed for Wanting to Deny Others the Right to Vote

Judson Phillips, the lawyer behind Castle Law Group (Nashville), latest idea has created a hurricane size backlash against Mr. Phillips. The Castle Law Group owner believes that only property owners should have the right to vote.  Phillips seems to believe those who aren’t the elite feudal lords of property can’t be trusted to vote. Instead, they must be put back in their place as serfs, working for their lords for scraps off the feudalistic tables.

http://www.brighthub.com/money/home-buying/articles/123520.aspx

A Bright Hub reader’s response:

Yes, I am Republican but in no way would I ever want to be affiliated with any political group who deemed renters shouldn’t vote in public elections.

Who Castle Law Group is not:

http://www.castlelawgrouppa.com/

I contacted attorney Ben Hillard of the Castle Law Group P.A. in Largo, Florida a few months ago – by mistake. Mr. Hillard responded saying he thought I had his law firm confused with Castle Law Group PC of timeshare fame, law firms differentiated only by the initials P.A. and PC. Mr. Hillard would like to make it clear his firm is in no way associated with Mr. Judson Phillips or his law firm Castle Law Group PC. In a recent letter to Mr. Hillard, Mr. Phillips said his firm is considering rebranding for reasons not associated with Mr. Hillard’s concerns, the similarity in names.

Here is the Castle Law P.C. and Orange Lake Lawsuit as reported by Paul Brinkmann at the Orlando Sentinel

Orlando-based timeshare companies Westgate Resorts and Orange Lake Country Club filed nearly identical lawsuits in Orlando against Tennessee firms Castle Law and Castle Marketing. Westgate and Orange Lake accuse the Castle companies of charging some customers an upfront litigation fee of $7,500. Orange Lake said Castle filed no lawsuits for any of its owners who paid the fee; Westgate said Castle hasn’t filed lawsuits for some owners who paid the litigation fee.

A senior partner with Castle — attorney and Tea Party leader Judson Phillips — denies those allegations…. he said in an email he believes the suits are frivolous, and he and Castle have obtained good results for clients.

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/brinkmann-on-business/os-bz-timeshare-cancellation-fraud-20170618-story.html

According to a letter sent to Orange Lake attorney Brian Lower, from a Castle Law Group attorney, Castle accused Orange Lake of “gross misrepresentations regarding the terms and conditions of the Orange Lake timeshares in that they were fraudulently induced to enter into the timeshare contract and the debt instruments associated with such contracts in violation of federal and state laws.”

A letter from a lawyer like this triggers a “cease and desist” demand of all communication with the client, including collection attempts. This cease and desist letter has served as a bone of contention to timeshare developers in that a debt collector may not communicate with a consumer if the consumer is represented by an attorney or has an open Attorney General complaint, under the Fair Debt Collections Protections Act.

Among the twelve causes of action in Castle’s cease and desist letter against developers, are those our Inside Timeshare readers who have contacted us asking for help would not disagree with:

  • Improper and unethical high pressure sales tactics.
  • Gross and deliberate misrepresentations regarding benefits of ownership.
  • Gross misrepresentation regarding the ability to utilize timeshare points to cover fees associated with membership and exchanges.
  • False information regarding the ease and/or ability to resell for a profit.
  • False sense of urgency to purchase the same day.

Castle Law Group PC is not Better Business Bureau accredited, is nonrated, and a consumer complaint warning has been posted.

https://www.bbb.org/nashville/business-reviews/timeshare-cancellation-and-litigation-attorneys/castle-law-group-pc-in-nashville-tn-37113357

According to the Castle Law website they are timeshare lawyers trusted by thousands with a 4.7 out of 5 star ranking based on 12 reviews (powered by GetFiveStars). When I reached out to the firm for comment, I was put on hold for a very long time.

https://timesharecancellation.com/

you decide

Greg Crist, CEO of the National Timeshare Owners Association was recently quoted by the Orlando Sentinel that more lawsuits against cancellation companies were likely in the works.

“Some of those cancellation companies that have been targeted by developers were actually started by their own former timeshare employees. Those folks learned how to exploit the system by learning what is called the inside track. They know how the high-pressure sales tactics work,” Crist said. “They attract timeshare owners in the same way — post cards offering a free dinner, or an evening out. They show owners how maintenance fees escalate, and literally scare the hell out of these people using calculations that are wildly inaccurate and overstated. These are not law firms but represent to have an attorney on staff, giving the illusion that there are legal services involved in the transaction. Rarely does the company even communicate with the resort and the timeshare owner doesn’t even know what is happening until it is too late. Why is that?”

Crist explained this is often due to an unqualified money back guarantee the company provides that isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. The owner is simply lulled into a false sense of security, until they are foreclosed on and that’s when all hell breaks loose. Crist has watched this happening for years, but says the industry is making a mistake by throwing legitimate attorneys in the same mix with resale, transfer and advocacy groups.

While the NTOA is involved with educating owners, advocating for their rights and helping them engage in the product they already own, they do not sell, transfer or offer services like TPE’s do. Any timeshare member or owner can join NTOA.

https://www.ntoassoc.com/

GBUgly

The present legal climate in the timeshare world is reminiscent of the old west with summons flying like bullets back and forth across the corral. Lost in the middle is the consumer, many complaining they purchased a timeshare based on false promises. The timeshare lobby ARDA and the major timeshare developers seem determined to ignore outcries of deceit on the front end of the timeshare sale.  

All attorneys are not created equal. It seems that timeshare developers don’t want a timeshare member to ever contact any lawyer and they lump all attorneys into a kettle of frivolous lawsuit filers. Two major developers attributed their rise in default rate due to “attorneys targeting members and cease and desist letters.” As in any profession, some attorneys do have questionable business practices, but any citizen should have a right to their day in court and the legal representation that accompanies that right if they feel they were deceived into purchasing a timeshare.

One former Hyatt and Diamond Resorts sales agent described “inventory recycling” as a hamster wheel that sometimes begins with deceit and bait and switch on the front end of the sale. To date (as of August 16, 2017) Inside Timeshare has received 124 inquiries of which 110 allege they were deceived on the front end of the timeshare sale. Most have outstanding loans.

“I am asking you to look at the moon and you are staring at the end of my finger,” deceased Jesuit Priest Anthony DeMello once wrote. That’s how I feel listening to case after case from family members, often financially devastated, alleging they were deceived, sometimes just days after a rescission period. Why won’t developers take a closer look at their own house?

ethics cartoon

Contact Inside Timeshare if you have a positive or negative timeshare experience to share, through your experiences others may have a better understanding of what they are going through and see that they are not alone.

If you need any further information regarding any article published, or wish to know where you stand legally with your timeshare, Inside Timeshare is here to help. Contact us and we will point you in the right direction.